I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's all in the headline

Many people just read the headlines. This is a headline on the front page of today's Oregonian:

Smith stands for beliefs on middle ground

Now those of us who follow Gordon Smith and read his votes rather than his lips know he is a wingnut, as wingnutty as you can get. Now I wonder if the author of the article is the one who came up with the headline because for the most part the article just points out how Gordon Smith is just a smooth talking wingnut Republican political hack. Now Mr Smith will frequently say things to make independents and moderates happy. He will vote in a way to please moderates and independents when his vote doesn't really matter. When his vote will make a difference he is a wingnut all the way. Some examples of Smith's wingnuttery from the Oregonian piece.
Most Smith votes have toed the party line. Of about 200
votes this year that were not unanimous, Smith voted the same way as Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist 170 times.
In comparison, he voted the same way as Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., 80 times.


On several recent controversial issues, Smith voted with Republicans. For instance, he supported the constitutional amendment to prevent flag desecration. Smith says all rights -- including freedom of expression -- have limits.


Smith, who campaigned in 2002 as an advocate of gay rights, also has supported a federal amendment to prohibit gay marriage.


"The Democratic Party is not my constituency. These are people that believe in socialism. I don't."
Does that sound like a moderate to you? Don't believe those headlines - read the story.

I'm going to move this, from Joseph at The Corpus Callosum, up from the comments section. It adds to the Headlines/Soundbites discussion.
That is a really important point -- you have to read the whole article. While doing so, you have to hold at bay the framing implied by the title -- don't let the title sway your critical thinking process.

One of my hypotheses, in the category of things I believe but cannot prove, it that the rise of "headline news" organizations is something that is leading to increased polarization of the electorate. It is much easier for politicians (of any party) to sway the population, if all the news that people get is just the headlines.

Politicians can become adept at manipulating the media to put up the headlines they want. Of course, it does not help, that the media are complicit in this.

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